April 16, 2010

SpaceTEC Signs Agreements for Space Workforce Training (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceTEC, an NSF-sponsored National Aerospace Technical Education Center, has signed agreements with three companies to provide mutual support for professional development and national credentialing of the technical workforce. Agreements were signed with Astrotech Space Operations, Dynamac Corp., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. SpaceTEC's mission is to implement an industry-driven, government-endorsed technical education process for aerospace technicians. SpaceTEC-supported curricula are in place at over a dozen colleges that serve NASA and Air Force space centers, commercial spaceports, and other areas with a substantial aerospace industry presence. Visit www.SpaceTEC.org for information. (4/16)

Obama Plans Support for Central Florida Economy as Space Shuttle Retires (Source: SPACErePORT)
President Obama plans a $40 million multi-agency initiative to help the Space Coast transform its economy and prepare workers for new opportunities. He has asked for an action plan from a senior-level Task Force to be on his desk by Aug. 15. The Task Force will be composed of officials from the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Labor, NASA, and the White House. It will likely include state and local participation, but these details haven't yet been worked out.

"The Department of Labor is already planning a pilot program to better assist the region's workers." With DOD's involvement, it seems likely that some consideration will be given to expanding the Cape's military space activity, and exploring options like using the Shuttle Logistics Depot for refurbishing military equipment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps we can expect an announcement that Air Force-sponsored Minotaur launches will be scheduled from Launch Complex 46, or a substantial Air Force investment in Eastern Range upgrades is forthcoming, or the relocation of some appropriate Air Force space program office to Patrick Air Force Base. More than any other recommendation from this Task Force, such DOD-oriented options would have the highest likelihood of keeping the area's strategically skilled space industry workforce in place. (4/16)

To Boldly Go to a Commercial Space Age (Source: Guardian)
The space exploration paradigm has moved on since the days of Apollo. To make progress, NASA must embrace private industry. It's not surprising that people are all bent out of shape over Obama's plans for NASA and its human space flight program. Axing Constellation means job losses and the abandonment of long pursued programs of science and engineering; for some people it is the end of their exploration dreams. Among the disgruntled is Neil Armstrong. In his view Obama's plans risk ceding the United States's pre-eminence in space exploration to emerging superpowers and display a fatal lack of vision.

But the space exploration paradigm has moved on since the days of Apollo. Nasa's budget, as a fraction of the country's GDP, is an order of magnitude less than it was around the time of those missions. Gone are the days when things could move so quickly or command such resource. From Kennedy's utterance of the words "before this decade is out" to Armstrong's historic small step, took eight years. No NASA program of recent times has proved anything like as agile or successful.

Armstrong's message is that if you have a vision you've got to stick with it, believe in it and resource it properly. True; but it's the resource that is the forcing issue here. In embracing the commercial sector Nasa looks to solve the problem of sustainability. (4/16)

Walker, Levin Comment on Obama's Vision (Source: Space Politics)
Former Congressman Bob Walker and Lon Levin appeared to like the new plan. Walker said the speech will cause the political establishment to “take a deep breath” and reexamine their interest in or opposition to the plan, while Levin called it a good speech that recognized the need to match goals and resources. Walker noted a problem with the original rollout of the plan in February was that it was done as a budget proposal. Members of Congress scrutinize them to see what they would lose, rather than what we can gain.

Moving forward in Congress, Walker said that while the most logical path for building support would be in the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, that committee has a number of members with NASA centers in their districts and thus may not be as receptive. A better alternative may be the Senate Appropriations Committee, through Sen. Mikulski (and her subcommittee is holding a hearing on the NASA budget next week.) One concern Walker had is that he believes NASA will operate under a continuing resolution for several months because the appropriations bill would not be done in time. Such a move would restrict NASA’s ability to start new programs or wind down Constellation. (4/16)

Asteroid goal is Riskier than Moon (Source: MSNBC)
Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now. Space experts say such a voyage could take several months longer than a journey to the moon and entail far greater dangers. "It is really the hardest thing we can do," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. (4/16)

Colbert Coming to Houston for Astronaut Training (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Stephen Colbert's mission to save the space program has earned him an invitation from NASA to undergo astronaut training. And he has accepted. Colbert told his audience: "I never in a million years thought I would see the day when I would want to go to Houston. NASA, I accept!" Colbert says he will be in Houston in May. Get ready to blast off, NASA. (4/16)

Editorial: Obama's Hollow Promise On Space (Source: Fox)
Last year the U.S. had a proven spacecraft in the shuttle, and a well-defined plan for sending American astronauts to deep space. Next year we will have no spacecraft, and no credible plan to develop our own deep space craft for a decade or more. Our experienced NASA team will have left for jobs elsewhere--if they can find them. Our claims for space leadership will be believed only by the president's speechwriters. (4/16)

Not Your Grandfather's Space Program (Source: US News & World Report)
Space-policy analyst Howard McCurdy of American University in Washington, D.C., says he doesn't see much difference in adherence to timetables and goals between Bush's plan and that of Obama's. But he says he's intrigued by Obama's willingness to "leapfrog" over smaller goals. (4/16)

Intelsat Accused of Engaging in Anti-competitive Practices (Source: Space News)
Four companies that purchase satellite capacity from Intelsat are accusing the large fleet operator of anti-competitive practices, including price manipulation on a recent U.S. Navy contract that favored an Intelsat subsidiary’s winning bid over competing offers that included Intelsat satellite links.

The companies, two of which have filed separate protests of the Navy contract, are asking the FCC to take a fresh look at Intelsat’s status a decade after the fleet operator was privatized, and specifically to consider a forced divestiture of the Intelsat General subsidiary that handles government contracts. Intelsat and Inmarsat, established as intergovernmental cooperatives, were privatized about a decade ago. (4/16)

USTR Criticizes Closed International Satellite Services Markets (Source: Space News)
The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has singled out China, India and Mexico as nations not meeting international commitments to open their domestic satellite services markets and maintain coherent regulatory regimes. In its annual report on how nations that have signed World Trade Organization and other agreements that liberalize trade in telecommunications hardware and services have met their commitments, USTR elected not to mention regulatory barriers to foreign-owned satellite services in Egypt, Israel and Venezuela. These three nations, along with China, India and Mexico, were cited by the U.S. Satellite Industry Association in the association’s comments to USTR. (4/16)

Ball Aerospace Tapped for Naval Oceanography Satellite (Source: Space News)
Ball Aerospace & Technologies was awarded a U.S. Navy contract that could be worth as much as $500 million if the service opts to proceed with construction of a new ocean-altimetry satellite. Ball received a $5.5 million contract from the Naval Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to design a satellite dubbed Geosat Follow-On (GFO)-2 that will measure ocean height and thermal properties. Ball built and launched the first GFO satellite at a cost of $85 million. The satellite operated from 1998 to 2008. (4/16)

Central Florida Reacts To Obama’s Vision For NASA (Source: CFL-13)
President Barack Obama told the world Thursday about his vision for America's Space Program. Mars is the destination, but it will take a couple of decades or more to get there. The University of Central Florida hosted a forum Friday morning at the school's downtown center.

"In terms of getting a change in the mindset of Washington, and not treating the space program just as a jobs program, I think is going to be one of the big challenges,” said Pat Duggins, a public radio space expert. “For everyone over in Brevard County, who's living with the uncertainty of what's happening, it's a terrible time for them, it really is."

"We spend money on star rated appliances, and Cash for Clunkers, but we can't spend one one-eighth percent of the federal budget to extend the shuttle program that is safer now than ever,” said Rep. Ritch Workman. (4/16)

Proposed Deep Space Exploration Good News for Stennis Space Center (Source: WDAM)
Six billion dollars. That's how much money President Obama wants to add to NASA's budget over a five year period. So how does this impact Stennis Space Center in Hancock County? "Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of break through propulsion systems and other advanced technologies," said President Obama.

And those systems start at our back door. "The big thing he has done for Stennis is the development of a heavy lift vehicle," said a Stennis official. The plan to build the heavy lift vehicle allows Stennis to continue the work it does best. "We will test the engines for this new vehicle that's being developed." (4/16)

Russia Sends Military Satellite Into Orbit (Source: Xinhua)
A Russian Soyuz-U rocket on Friday successfully delivered a Cosmos defense satellite into orbit. The rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk spaceport in northern Russia. This is the second time for Russia to launch a defense satellite this year. A Proton-M rocket delivered a Raduga military communications satellite into orbit. Russia reportedly runs a system of 60-70 military satellites with reconnaissance, missile early warning and other capabilities. (4/16)

Rep. Rohrabacher Supports Obama's New Space Plan, Agrees with Ending Constellation (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) reiterated his support for the administration's new space plan, including the cancellation of NASA's Constellation program. "President Obama reiterated the nation's long-term space goal - America, and American astronauts, exploring the solar system. This remains the right goal," said Rohrabacher. "We as a nation must remain committed to the goal - not just on particular methods to get there."

"Ending the Constellation program is the right thing to do," continued Rohrabacher. "Overstated and unrealistic expectations destined Constellation for failure. NASA would need an annual budget increase between 15% and 25% for Constellation to have any chance at success. In a time of record deficits, that does not make sound fiscal sense." (4/16)

Rep. Posey's Statement on the President's Space Speech at KSC (Source: SpaceRef.com)
"I am committed to helping the President keep his August 2008 commitment to Brevard and the nation; first to close the space gap and second to keep America first in space. I do, however, align my concerns with those recently expressed by astronauts Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan about the President's current plan which falls short of these commitments. He has not budged on his plan to retire the shuttle eight months from now and that is deeply disappointing to me but I will continue to press for Shuttle extension." 4/16)

Rep. Kosmas' Statement on President Obama's NASA Address (Source: SpaceRef.com)
"The changes that the President has outlined today to his NASA proposal are steps in the right direction and a sign that he is listening to my concerns, but there is still room for improvement. The continuation of Orion, combined with new program offices at Kennedy Space Center, infrastructure upgrades and economic development funding, will help protect Space Coast jobs, and I am glad that the President has heard our call to preserve our highly skilled workforce." (4/16)

Has Obama's NASA Strategy Fizzled at Launch? (Source: Time)
Never mind the tropical sun. Visit Florida and dis the space program, and the reception you'll get is going to be awfully cool. Nobody knew that better than President Obama on Thursday, when he toured KSC and then spoke to a roomful of 200 VIPs about his plans for NASA after the shuttle program ends later this year. The President had to know that more than the agency's future could be on the line. In Florida — the ultimate presidential swing state — his could be too. So how was the temperature in the room? Chilly — and not without reason.

Obama's take on space has never been an easy thing to track. During the campaign, he targeted NASA as a likely area for budget-balancing cuts. Electoral arithmetic made that position untenable, and he quickly backtracked, pledging a robust future for the space agency, albeit one that would take it in a different direction from the one the previous Administration had pursued.

Once elected, Obama began changing course fast. He started by sacking Michael Griffin, the fiercely focused if not always interpersonally winning NASA administrator who had pushed the program along to the point where metal was being cut on the new spacecraft and the booster Ares 1X was poised for launch. In Griffin's place, Obama picked Charlie Bolden, a former astronaut and a bit of a cipher. Click here to read the entire article. (4/16)

Shuttle Supporters Vow Not to Give Up Fight (Source: Florida Today)
The president's proposed space plan could be an economic boon for Brevard County in the long run. But with the local unemployment rate at 12.6 percent, many questions remain about the more immediate impact. "I believe it can lead to a lot of jobs," Brevard Workforce President Lisa Rice said. "My question remains: When? We need jobs now...We are absolutely swamped with the 33,000-some people who are already unemployed in Brevard."

In his speech at Kennedy Space Center Thursday, President Barack Obama emphasized that his space plan would create some 4,500 new jobs at KSC by 2012 -- 2,500 more than were expected under Project Constellation. That will help offset the 8,000 jobs expected to be lost from the shuttle fleet's retirement later this year and the cancellation of Constellation. (4/16)

Flight Test of India's Cryogenic Stage Not Successful (Source: ISRO)
The flight-testing of the indigenous Cryogenic Engine and the Stage conducted in the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-D3 on April 15 was not successful. The countdown went off as planned. GSLV-D3 vehicle performance was normal up to the end of the second stage (GS2) till 293 seconds. Afterwards, the Cryogenic Stage was to ignite and burn for about 720 seconds to inject GSAT-4 Satellite into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. It is yet to be ascertained whether the cryogenic engine did ignite. The vehicle was seen tumbling, lost altitude and finally splashed down in the sea. (4/16)

Obama Sets New Course to Conquer the Final Frontier (Source: Space Daily)
President Barack Obama set a bold new course for the future of US space travel when he announced plans to send US astronauts into the orbit of Mars within the next three decades. The US leader on Thursday also sought to quell a storm of outrage caused by earlier administration plans, vowing before NASA staff that he was "100 percent committed" to their mission and to the future of the US space agency.

"I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it's not an afterthought in America's quest for a brighter future. It is an essential part of that quest," he told a crowd at Kennedy Space Center. Obama said his administration would pump six billion more dollars into the NASA budget over the next five years. He also had specific ideas how it should be spent.

"[Some would say] We should attempt a return to the surface of the moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say, pretty bluntly here, we've been there before. "There's a lot more of space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do," he said, to loud applause. "By 2025 we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first ever crew missions beyond the moon into deep space. So, we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars." (4/16)

Editorial: Making His Case (Source: Florida Today)
President Obama finally explained his vision for the nation’s future in space Thursday, forcefully saying he was committed to human spaceflight and it was time to transform NASA. In doing so, he provided the key missing link to a policy that has been the subject of raging debate: He made Mars the target, insisting his vision would get astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s and spur new jobs and industries — and inspire a new generation — in the same way the Apollo moon landings did four decades ago.

His arguments won’t assuage the plan’s many critics and we continue to have hard questions and concerns of our own. He also made it clear he won’t continue shuttle flights, saying the decision to end the program was made six years ago and it was time to move on. That leaves just three missions before the fleet is retired later this year, and painful times ahead as thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers lose their jobs.

Still, the president had persuasive moments in making his case: He noted NASA’s goals had not matched its budget because of weak political support in Washington, leaving the agency with unachievable missions. He’s giving NASA another $6 billion while the rest of the federal budget is under a spending freeze — a fact that cannot be ignored. Click here to read the entire editorial. (4/16)

Florida's I-4 Corridor Envisioned as a Center for Space Innovation (Source: SPACErePORT)
As part of President Obama's plan to mitigate the impacts of the Space Shuttle's fast-approaching retirement, and prepare NASA KSC for a greater role in space exploration, the "I-4 Corridor" that stretches from Tampa to Daytona Beach and includes Florida's Space Coast. The I-4 Corridor includes universities like the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona), University of Central Florida (Orlando), University of South Florida (Tampa-area), University of Florida (Gainesville) and the Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne).

A handout distributed by NASA during President Obama's visit to KSC on April 15 provided only a few details on this element of the President's vision... A new "Flagship Technology Demonstrations Deputy Program Office" at KSC will help manage "$424 million in FY-2011 and $6 billion over five years to demonstrate transformational technologies for next-generation space flight capabilities." (4/16)

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